Effects of Barnum personality assessments on cognitive behavior

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Abstract

Barnum assessments--personality descriptions that seem accurate to clients but fit largely or wholly by virtue of their universality--were found in the present experiments to have an impact on behavior that equaled or exceeded direct instructions from the experimenter. 73 undergraduates were given either Barnum characterizations or straightforward instructions regarding open- or closed-mindedness. The Barnum inductions influenced subsequent cognitive behavior: Ss led to believe that they were open-minded were more balanced in the thoughts they produced on 2 campus issues than were Ss led to believe that they were closed-minded. (4 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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